New Warming Shelter For Bellows Falls Homeless

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The Bellows Falls Warming Shelter has a new location where local people who are homeless can sleep during the cold months.

The overnight shelter ended up homeless itself for much of last winter. Thanks to a deadlocked zoning board, it failed to win a permit to operate in the pizza parlor basement that had housed it the winter before.

People in need last winter were bussed to Keene, New Hampshire, or housed in motels until a few apartments became temporarily available.

Louise Luring chairs the shelter’s board. She says fire codes are very restrictive when it comes to siting a shelter.

"And then we also have to deal with having it in an appropriate space where we think the zoning board will approve," she says. "And we couldn’t find any place like that."

This year’s temporary solution isn’t even in Bellows Falls. It’s across the river in North Walpole New Hampshire. But it’s an easy walk from Bellows Falls.

The building is a former store that can only accommodate ten people.

"It’s very clean and very bright and they’ve done a nice job rehabbing it," Luring says. "But it is small. it’s an open area where we’ll try to put up some partitions to give people privacy." And she adds, "It will work."

Luring says it’s estimated that about 30 people are currently homeless in the village, many of them camped out in the woods.

She says social service agencies will work to find solutions for those the shelter can’t accommodate.

The new site hopes to open early in November.

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